Machine learning, predictive, and data science are very popular, and no one questions any more that companies should infuse every aspect of their business with machine learning. To make this happen, SAP offers several possibilities and solutions—from standalone machine learning solutions to embedded artificial intelligence in almost all our standard solutions.
While it makes perfect sense to offer different solutions, depending on the user group, business purpose or use case, this variety of options can be really confusing to someone who is new to the topic. I once had a colleague reaching out to me asking: “Sarah can I ask you a stupid question? Why do we offer so many machine learning and predictive options within the SAP portfolio?” The first thing that came to my mind was: Sometimes it takes more than one super hero to save the world.
After having said that, I realized that the SAP machine learning portfolio can be easily explained by an analogy to the super hero universe we all know from comic books and movies. Since I am a big fan of super heroes and comics, I started to tell the overall story of SAP’s machine learning and predictive portfolio using this analogy and I hope this approach helps you as well to understand the breadth and depth of the portfolio.
In general, there is more than one super hero in each universe and they all have different skills and competencies. Sometimes they face challenges on their own, sometimes together as a team, depending on the threat and the opponent. Let’s start with the local super heroes these are the ones local to our home planet.
Who Are the Local Super Heroes in SAP’s World?
In the SAP world, our local super heroes are the machine learning functionalities we have natively on SAP HANA. SAP HANA is not only an in-memory database, it is also an advanced analytics and machine learning platform. As a platform it provides a huge variety of native libraries but here we will focus on the libraries that support machine learning.
Super hero APL (Automated Predictive Library) allows the business user to use statistics to solve the most common predictive business use cases. Instead of deciding on the statistic algorithm to use the business user simply chooses between different use cases. In the background the library automatically tests different models and presents the best model to the user.
Working together with super hero PAL (Predictive Analysis Library) is not quite as easy. PAL provides many native in-database machine learning algorithms that can be called from scripts. This requires from the end user the ability to select the right algorithm to solve the problem. Typically, this user will be a data scientist, who might be considered a super hero on his own. Often, he will bring with him his set of preferred tools/toys like R, Python and tensor flow that all seamlessly integrate with SAP HANA. This is great since data scientist can use their preferred language and then directly put it into production on SAP HANA.
Now that we know our local super heroes, how can we make sure that they work together as a team most effectively?
Who Supports the Local Superheroes?
This is where SAP Data Intelligence comes into play.
- First, it is our virtual data platform that helps you to get an overview of the data that you have spread over your – sometimes diverse – IT landscapes.
- Second, it is an orchestration layer that enables you to build and execute workflows (pipelines).
- Thus, it prepares the data to be used in the machine learning algorithms and organizes the different tasks to reach the goal in workflows.
SAP Data Intelligence helps our superheroes to combine their strengths and achieve the ultimately goal to save the world. Translated in the superhero universe: they also have an organization that first manages most of the information for them and tells each superhero the working schedule, meaning in which team to work and what he/she is responsible for to fulfill the overall goal and save the world.
And What If Our Local Super Heroes Can’t Accomplish It All Alone?
Then let’s call in some super heroes from a galaxy far, far away called the cloud! The first good thing about these foreigners is that they come to the rescue but don’t move in with us, so that we don’t have to provide any infrastructure for them. The second good thing is the availability of SAP HANA in the cloud providing predictive services on the SAP Cloud Platform.
Super Hero SAP Conversational AI helps us to easily build chatbots. With the language technologies and some predefined bots provided the users can easily build bots of their own and connect them for example to their customer portal to improve the service or to their SAP systems to make the interaction more intuitive.
Super Hero Smart Predict in SAP Analytics Cloud provides easy to use predictive scenarios for the business user. SAP Analytics Cloud is our self-service tool for business intelligence, predictive analytics, and planning in one simple cloud to enable fast and confident decision making. It also has machine learning embedded to discover deep insights, simplify access to critical information, and empower informed decision making for all.
Its newest feature is Smart Predict, which uses algorithms from the Automated Predictive Library on SAP HANA and provides a nice and easy to use interface to the business users to run their own predictions without having the need for deep knowledge about statistics and algorithms. After running the predictions with a few clicks, the business intelligence functionalities in SAP Analytics Cloud can be used directly to visualize the results.
This new group of super heroes in the cloud again raises the question, What we can do to make them work as a team?
Bringing the Superheroes from Near and Far Together
The answer to this question is again SAP Data Intelligence. This is the second goal of this software solution: to provide an open, scalable, complete machine learning and data science offering, so that data scientist have everything they need to put their models and projects into production and integrate it with the business world.
But what would the world of the super hero be without its trainees aspiring to become the next generation superheroes?
In the superhero universe, the trainees help the people in the neighborhood to fight local issues to make the world a better place—but in the eyes of at least some super heroes, they aren’t cool enough to become a fully accepted member of the team. Don’t get me wrong, they have great super powers and on demand fight together with the other fully-grown heroes and really make a difference in the fight, but in general they operate more locally to really focus on supporting the people.
In the SAP world these are intelligent solutions like Service Ticket Intelligence and the growing number of machine learning functionality embedded in SAP’s core solutions that support the end users to work more efficient.
For example, Stock in Transit and Contract Consumptions are predefined predictive use cases embedded in SAP S/4HANA. If the predefined use case fits the customer’s needs, he simply trains the predefined models with his own data and is ready to use the advanced technology. If the customer’s use case differs an interface is provided to adapt the model accordingly.
Predefined Chatbots functionalities simplify the communication with the solutions and can be complemented by chatbots built with SAP Conversational AI.
SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation is our newest super hero trainee. It is like your personal assistant that you configured to do repeatable and tedious tasks, so you can spend more time on the interesting tasks.
Do You Face Any Challenges That Require a Superhero to Solve? Let Us Know!
We introduced our super heroes to you and how data scientists and business users are enabled to combine machine learning with their business. This is our vision of saving the (business) world.